tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 24, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
on the broadcast tonight -- getting out of syria while under relentless fire. tonight the mission to rescue women and children there. our chilling encounter with a man trapped as the violence raged around it. the ground game. with the game on the line in michigan, mitt romney gives a big speech in a big but mostly empty football stadium. a day some say might have ended in a fumble. stormy weather. that same storm system that swept people off their feet in the rockies, now moving fast, making travel slow. it's a storm big enough to now have a name. and fast track. the woman to watch this weekend, not at the oscars, at daytona. yesterday, she walked away from this. tonight, she talks to us. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. there is no question the government of syria has been firing relentlessly into civilian areas. it's so fierce, so random, journalists can't be near the worst to show the world how bad it is. at least seven journalists have died covering it. the battles have been so gruesome, there are negotiations to get syria to cease-fire, just to allow an open corridor for humanitarian reasons, to allow the worst of the wounded a way out, evacuation route with the help of the red cross. that is apparently happening in one hard-hit city, but elsewhere the shooting goes on. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel on the syrian border with turkey to start us off. richard, good evening. >> reporter: yes, brian. the evacuations have begun, but only in the city of homs. this is all happening in the middle of the night here after
protracted negotiations on the ground and extensive pressure on syria. hours before the evacuation, signs of how desperate syria had become. the free syrian army the rebel brigade tries to fight back. they attack government forces. it's a brave fight, but they're losing it. outnumbered and outgunned by a lot. and this morning, homs itself was once again under attack. witnesses describe neighborhoods on fire. people living on shrubs and onions, bodies unreachable under debris. we managed to reach an activist there via skype. he feared for his life. >> no one can protect themselves from shelling. everyone can be a target. i think i will die now. i don't know. >> reporter: then an explosion, the line cut.
hours later we learned he was okay. but pressure on syria to let up on homs may have been too much to ignore. in tunisia today, more than 60 nations gathered to call for an immediate cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to reach homs. >> if the assad regime refuses to allow this life-saving aid to reach people in need, it will have even more blood on its hands. and so, too, will those nations that continue to protect and arm the regime. >> reporter: among those states, russia. today even it expressed concern about homs and support for a cease-fire. but a short cease-fire limited to homs to evacuate the worst off doesn't mean the conflict in syria is over. far from it. in a turkish village near the syrian border today, a funeral
for an opposition fighter, at a hillside cemetery, they prayed for the martyr to enter heaven. as they buried him with shovels and bare hands. diplomacy too late for him. and tonight, brian, the red cross says dozens of people have already been evacuated from homs starting with women and children, but this seems to be mostly a tactical cease-fire a way for syria to buy time not end the conflict. >> richard engel, thanks. those anti-american protests across afghanistan are not letting up on this fourth day of outrage over the unintentional burning of copies of the koran by u.s. troops. at least seven more are now dead. there were some tense moments this morning for our own correspondent atia abawi when she and her camera crew found themselves in the middle of the chaos in kabul.
she is with us from our nbc news bureau there. >> reporter: good evening, brian. there was a real fear here today's protest would be deadlier than what we've seen since tuesday. in western afghanistan, demonstrators attacked the u.s. consulate. we got caught up in an angry crowd in kabul, holding batons. and wanting to attack westerners and western compounds. what protected us and most of afghanistan were the afghan security forces. protestors have gotten out of hand. the afghan army is trying to stop them. they are firing off warning shots. we nearly got stuck in the protests and we have to run. last night the commander of nato forces here went to the u.s. base where two americans were killed in yesterday's protest. >> now is not the time for revenge. now is not the time for vengeance. >> reporter: military leaders and politicians haven't had much success stopping the violence, but religious leaders have. in some mosques today, they tried to calm their congregations, reminding them
the koran does not allow them to kill anyone, even westerners and nonmuslims. today that seemed to make a difference. >> atia abawi, after a tough day in kabul. now to the threat from iran and its nuclear secrets. there is a new report out tonight from the united nations how fast take ran is working on that nuclear program and how far it appears to have gotten. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has more from our d.c. newsroom tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. we've been going through this report page by page and talking to officials here and abroad. only days after their visit this week to iran, the u.n. nuclear inspectors say despite iran's denials, they have serious concerns there is a military dimension to iran's nuclear program. partly because the inspectors were not allowed to see a key facility. at another site near qom, deep underground they say iran is producing far more enriched
uranium than it would ever need for civilian use. the only bright notice iran's testing program for advanced centrifuges is not going well. this report is going to alarm israel. already crude oil prices surged $125 a barrel within minutes of the report coming out. the traders think this is making it more likely we could face a real crisis with iran. >> andrea mitchell in washington, thanks. as the price of oil goes up, so does the price of gas. overnight the price of a gallon jumped another four cents to a national average of $3.65, much higher in some places, including the gas station in l.a. we reported from last night where yesterday's price was $5.09. tonight it's $5.21. on wall street today for the second day in a row, the dow rose over 13,000 then pulled back to close below that level. also of note, the s&p closed at its highest level since june of
'08. the economy is issue number one on the campaign trail, just four days to go now until the crucial primary in michigan. in detroit today, mitt romney gave what was billed as a major speech highlighting his economic plan. tonight, that speech is getting a lot of attention and not for all the right reasons for the romney campaign. nbc's peter alexander on the trail tonight. peter, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening to you. most campaign watchers view the state of michigan is a must-win state for mitt romney. he was counting on today's speech in front of a large audience to help solidify that effort. in what may have been his signature michigan moment at ford field, home of the detroit lions, mitt romney unveiled his economic plan, promising to reduce tax rates across the board by 20%. >> by making bold cuts in spending and common sense reforms, we are going to make our government simpler, smaller and smarter.
>> reporter: romney boldly claimed he is the one candidate who can beat president obama. >> i think i have the best chance, i have the only chance. maybe i'm overstating it a bit. >> reporter: romney's speech drew as much attention for the venue as it did for his vision. in a campaign that carefully crafts imagery, the scene was striking, a 65,000-seat stadium providing a nearly empty back drop. romney joked about the size of the stadium. >> i guess we had a hard time finding a large enough place to meet and this certainly is. >> reporter: outside, hundreds of democrats and union workers protested romney's opposition to the auto bailout, even lining up american-made cars to spell out "let detroit go bankrupt," the headline of a romney op-ed three years ago. trying to seize on that anger, rick santorum is airing this new ad, even though he also opposed the bailout. >> who is on the side of michigan workers? not romney.
he supported the wall street bailouts while turning his back on michigan workers. >> reporter: after days of criticism about his debate performance, santorum is trying to reclaim his position as the true conservative in the field. speaking last night with glenn beck. >> how can we be sure you won't take one for the team again on something this bad? >> i'll be the team leader, not a team member. >> reporter: back inside ford field being characterized by critics as an out of touch moments, romney proudly proclaimed how much he loves american cars. >> i drive a mustang and chevy pick-up truck. anne drives a couple of cadillacs actually. >> reporter: tonight the romney campaign insists it had nothing to do with the decision to hold today's speech on the field. the detroit economic club, the host of the event say they originally planned to hold it in the stadium's atrium but the secret service, they say, was concerned that the size of the crowd would make that area unsafe so it was decided to move to the field. as you know, often in these events, stage craft is as
important as what the candidate themselves says. >> peter alexander on the trail in michigan. thanks. with 48 hours to go before the crucial primaries, rick santorum will be among david gregory's guest sunday morning on "meet the press." we have exclusive new information on the penn state sexual abuse scandal. the investigation is now widening. the feds are now involved. michael isikoff covers this for is as our national investigative correspondent. he is in washington for us tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. there is a federal investigation into whether top penn state officials and board members may have covered up alleged child sex abuse by former defensive coordinator jerry sandusky, including possible payments of hush money. a grand jury subpoena demands the school turn over records of sandusky dating back to 1998, as well as the computer hard drives of penn state's former president
and two other former senior officials. nbc news has learned federal prosecutors also requested files about sandusky from a family of the late coach joe paterno. sandusky is facing more than 50 counts of child sex abuse brought by penn state prosecutors. this new federal inquiry goes beyond that to determine whether there was obstruction of justice or fraud. penn state is fully cooperating, a spokeswoman said. >> latest reporting from michael isikoff in our d.c. bureau. mike, thanks. still ahead as "nightly news" continues -- the storm over the u.s. that now has a name. the sasketchewan screamer. it's rearranging travel across a good bit of our country tonight. later this evening, danica patrick talks after that frightening moment on the track yesterday. [ male announcer ] if you think tylenol
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headaches across our country tonight. when we left you last night, folks in the upper midwest were preparing for a snowstorm. tonight that system moved east. down south, by the way, they are dealing with dangerous high winds and embedded severe storms as we head into the weekend. at one point this afternoon, 15 million americans were under a tornado watch. weather channel meteorologist mike sideel is in colorado tonight. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the storm now has a name. they are calling it the sasketchewan screamer. as it moved into the midwest is dumped half a foot of snow. tonight it's taking aim on the northeast. it's not over till it's over. today mother nature showed that certainly true this winter. in chicago, strong winds and slushy snow made for slick roads and a maddening morning commute. >> there's been a lot of accidents. my area isn't plowed yet. >> reporter: the storm snarled
air traffic across the country. more than 200 flights were canceled at o'hare, ruining weekend plans for joanna and her 6-year-old daughter katie. >> i wanted to see my brother and dad. >> reporter: this is only chicago's third sizable snowstorm this season and dozens of schools were canceled. snowplows and snow blowers getting a rare winter workout. after dumping more than nine inches of snow in colorado and the dakotas, the storm system swept east across the midwest into the great lakes. that same system causing severe weather across the south. hail in georgia. in alabama, high winds ripped the roof off a school with 62 children inside. luckily, no one was seriously injured. in connecticut, temperatures yesterday approached 60 degrees. this morning, there was as much as five inches of snow on the ground. it fell heavy and fast, knocking out power for hundreds of customers.
>> when i hear the sound of coffee perking, i looked and it dawned on me, the power is off. >> reporter: the heavy snow as ski resorts in the northeast gearing up for what could be the best weekend yet after one of the mildest winters on record. with landscapes like these, many are taking it in stride. >> it's not bad, the end of february, people. >> reporter: the real impact going forward will be high winds. winds could gust over 50 miles per hour across the northeast. that will raise additional worries of more power outage and guarantee long flight delays at the airport and flight cancellations. >> our wild season continues. mike seidel in chicago, thanks as always. up next, a sign of the times. what shut down a popular tourist spot today. here's one you may not have thought of: fidelity. now you don't have to go to a bank to get the things you want from a bank. like no-fee atms --
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finally, this friday night, a lot of americans are excited for sunday because sunday is the academy awards. some of us, however, are additionally excited to watch something earlier in the day, the daytona 500, the official start of the nascar season. this year made even more exciting because of a new driver in the lineup, danica patrick. she drives fast. she's highly marketable. her debut in this race is one of the biggest developments in the recent history of the biggest spectator sport in the land. yet for a moment there yesterday afternoon, it looked a little dicey.
>> reporter: she was running in the top ten in a very fast qualifying race, and she was moving ip when she got caught up in someone else's wreck. and her car shot across to the infield wall. it was a hard hit made softer by the new so-called soft wall technology. she walked away. she'll drive the backup car on sunday, and she knows the wreck could have ended differently. i watched your wreck thinking in a strange way, it's because dale earnhardt died a decade ago at that track that the soft wall technology exists, that you were able -- you iced a few bruises, last night, but were able to walk away from that. >> that's right. it's a real testament to the safety crew and the work they do on the cars, then also having that safer barrier. it wasn't long ago that wasn't a spot where the safer barrier was. so it makes me feel a lot better knowing that and makes me feel better, literally, being able to get out of the car and walk away and not having anything but a couple of bruises.
that was a big hit. >> danica patrick is the leader! >> she was the most successful woman in the history of the indy style open wheel racing, the only woman ever to win in that series. the only one to place third in the indy 500. now in nascar's top class, while it's fast, she'll have a lot more car around her. nascar, as you know, is a contact sport. you're bumping and rubbing all the way around the oval. it must feel better to have more car around you. >> there is definitely a level of confidence that you have in a stock car racing with other cars out there. they can come and they can literally lay car to car on you and, you know, a lot of times nothing happens. in an indy car really bad things happen. >> reporter: danica patrick is a big brand name. she's had to prove herself on the track and off the track she has turned a lot of heads, modeling in next to nothing.
now on sunday, she will drive alongside 42 others, all hungry for a victory. how does it feel for you there going into this race? the woman thing aside, you're also a larger figure, a larger celebrity than a lot of the other 42 drivers in the field. you come in there with a certain public image, and of course, i know it gets proven or disproven out on the track. >> it does. usually when things go well on the track things go well on the media side of things. i've been really fortunate over the years to have really great partners that build me up. people that run commercials and run ads and people that know me as the go daddy girl and not just a race car driver. >> part of our talk late today with danica patrick, who by the way, will now have to get used to driving slower than she is used to compared to her old ride in indy cars. stock cars are heavier and not as fast, by about 30 miles per hour. so that's our broadcast on a friday night and our broadcast for this week. thank you for being here with us.